BBC BLOGS - Franz Strasser on the road

Archives for October 2009

East and west still divided?

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Franz Strasser | 09:07 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009

The town of Sebnitz found itself in a media scandal following false reports about the town's right-wing extremists. I paid a visit as Sebnitz was celebrating 20 years of peaceful revolution.

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What do you think about the stereotypes of the east and west, and how can towns like Sebnitz overcome the apparent lure of political extremes?

Leipzig: Town of economic progress and social divide

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Franz Strasser | 09:25 UK time, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The next stop on my journey is Leipzig, the cultural and economic centre of the region. I wanted to see whether the city was able to adapt to a new economic environment - and if so, at what cost.

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Have you been to Leipzig and what has been your impression? Keep those comments coming.

Where it all began: Altenburg

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Franz Strasser | 11:09 UK time, Monday, 26 October 2009

On the first leg of my journey through eastern Germany, I stopped in my birthplace Altenburg to see how the city had developed in the 20 years since reunification.

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Feel free to leave comments below and come back for more videos along the road.

About Franz Strasser

Franz Strasser | 06:00 UK time, Monday, 19 October 2009

For three weeks, I will travel back to the area where everything started and talk to people about all aspects of their last 20 years in a reunified Germany. Those I plan on meeting include the citizens of Altenburg, who saw the population of the city shrink from 55,000 to 35,000 when many left for better opportunities elsewhere and the people of Schlottwitz, who had built their own houses with the new currency and who saw them washed away in the flood of 2002.

With my camera and tripod, I will travel to areas where unemployment is as high as 17%, to cities such as Leipzig and Dresden that blossomed with the support of international tourism, and to places where the successor of the German Reich Party, the NPD, receives 11% of the vote.

Franz Strasser looks at a MercedesWhen the Berlin Wall came down on 9 November, 1989, I was five years old and stood in our small kitchen in a housing complex in East Germany.

I did not grasp the events that were unfolding but I remember seeing the joyful faces of my parents who had lived all their lives behind the Wall, dreaming about another world out there to discover.

20 years later, on a sunny day in New York City, I saw the same expressions on both their faces when I proudly showed them my Masters diploma from Columbia University's School of Journalism - a place impossible to visit just two decades earlier. I now work for BBC World News America.

Franz StrasserA lot has happened to the people of Eastern Germany since that day in 1989. It brought together two very different economies, reunited families, and started a new era for people living east and west of the former border.

This blog will be updated throughout my journey with videos and my notes. Your thoughts, comments and questions are very much appreciated.

PS: The first image in this post shows me standing in front of a Mercedes Benz showroom in West Berlin shortly after the Wall fell.

You can see more images of my childhood in this picture gallery.

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